Thursday, September 29, 2016

The art of managing frustration

I've been doing night and astrophotography for more than 20 years now and one thing I've learned over the years is managing frustration over bad weather. Missing out on rare events is still difficult to accept but the more common ones is easier to handle.

As for rare events, I almost missed the latest Venus transit in June 2012 due to cloudy weather. That would have been a bummer since the next one isn't until 2117. Here's a photo I got just as the weather cleared up and Venus was clearly visible against the solar disc.

Venus transit in 2012

Another rare event I almost missed was the totalt solar eclipse in March 2015. I was on the Faroe Islands and that time of the year the weather is usually very cloudy so my expectations wasn't that high. But, as you can see by the video capture below, I was very lucky to get a 20 second glimpse of the eclipse when a small opening in the clouds passed the Sun.

Total solar eclipse on Faroe Islands

The more common and yearly events like Northern lights, meteor showers etc. is easier to miss out on. There will always be another Northern light and next year I'll get another go at the Perseid meteor shower.

Strong Northern Lights blocked by clouds

So managing frustration due to bad weather comes down to luck and patience. You can always increase your chances of seeing a rare event by traveling to another location with a better weather forecast. For more common events, patience is you bests friend.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

My new book Light-year - a year of light

Last week I sent my new book to print, a moment I've been looking forward to. The book is called "Light-year - a year of light" and will be released in late October 2016. You can now pre-order one or more signed copies by sending an email to Write your name, shipping address and number of copies in your email. Price is 295 SEK and 40 SEK in unit shipment. All the text in the book are in both Swedish and English.

From the content:
"Look at a light-year from the perspective of an astrophotographer. Take time during all four seasons of the year to discover what makes each one of them uniquely special. Come on a journey to the sun, the moon, the Milky Way, noctilucent clouds and the mightiest of Northern Lights. Why is autumn a favourite season, why is it a good thing when it’s minus 20 degrees outside, and why does spring bring a melancholy mood? In the book “Light-year – a year of light” photographer Göran Strand describes his passion for light, illustrated by a great selection of his well-loved photographs."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Milky Way photography close to a city

I often get asked if you need a really dark location to be able to see and shoot the Milky Way. My answer to that question is usually no, it all depends on the amount of light pollution in your area.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a location just 8 km from down town Östersund (A city with a population of 60,000 in the municipality). I could see the Milky Way with my naked eye as a faint band of stars stretching across the sky above our heads. In this photo down town Östersund is to the left just behind me and my friend. The bright light source by the horizon to the right is the setting Moon.

As for shooting the Milky Way you can see by this photo that some light pollution is OK as long as the Milky Way doesn't stretch through it. When editing the photos I was surprised on how low above the horizon the Milky Way was visible, despite being that close to the Moon.

The image below is a panorama made of 12 photos each shot with the same exposure settings, 20 sec. ISO 1600 using a Nikon D810A and a Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens at 14 mm f/2.8.

The Milky Way over the city of Östersund

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Milky Way

Now that the astronomical nights are back I finally get to see and photograph the Milky Way again. When the darkness returns during the autumn, it feels like coming home from a long vacation when I can see the stars again.

This photo of the Milky Way was taken a couple of nights ago and is a four shot panorama using my Nikon D810A camera with a Nikon AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens at 20mm. Exposure was 20 seconds at ISO 3200 for each shot.